117 Speech by Burton at New Delhi Conference

NEW DELHI, 20 January 1949


'The Australian Government, whose policy it is to carry out its obligations to the United Nations with sincerity and earnestness, will give immediate and earnest consideration to the reports and observations which will be taken back to it at the conclusion of this Conference by its officials attending it.' This was stated by the Australian representative, Dr. J.W. Burton, in the course of his speech to the plenary session of the Conference today.

Dr. Burton began by saying that the thoughts already expressed by the Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, in his opening address were so much in accord with those of Australia that he felt there was little he need say in addition.

'We are convened here today by the Prime Minister of India', continued Dr. Burton, 'to discuss the problem which has been presented to the United Nations and in particular to the peoples of the United Nations of this area, by the failure so far of the Security Council effectively to deal with the situation which has been brought about in Indonesia. We are all agreed on the general principles involved, that is the principles of the United Nations, including the stated principle of self-government. We are concerned with detailed suggestion for the consideration of the Security Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations as to how these principles might be implemented in this case of Indonesia, and in this case only.' 'We do not meet in any vindictive spirit; we do not contemplate reprisals or restraints as an objective. Our attitude is rather that a mistake has been made which has cost lives and has brought about suffering not only to the people of Indonesia but also to the people of the Netherlands who have themselves already suffered too much at the hands of an aggressor. A mistake has been made from the point of view of the future of the United Nations. A mistake has been made from the point of view of world peace and the development of independent political institutions which alone can withstand the infiltration of undemocratic influences.' 'We have only one objective at this Conference and that is to try to off-set or remedy these grave mistakes: to find a way in which peace can be restored in Indonesia, a peace which is just and which, therefore, can be lasting; to endeavour to remedy the damage already done to the prestige and standing of the United Nations and the Security Council without which we can have no security.' 'We can make a real contribution to the solution of this problem as a regional conference assisting the Security Council in accordance with the Charter. Wisdom does not reside only in countries having great economic or military power. We assembled here, therefore, with our special knowledge of the area, have a duty to advise, and if our deliberations are characterised by objective thinking, persistent support for the principles, purposes and procedures of the United Nations, and by positive constructive planning, then our advice must ultimately be accepted by the peoples of the United Nations.' 'As is well known, Australia as the member of the Security Council, representing this area at the time of Dutch military action, has from the first made every endeavour to obtain a settlement to this dispute. We will not rest content until peace is restored.' 'The Australian Minister for External Affairs and President of the United Nations General Assembly, Dr. H.V. Evatt, just a few days ago observed that not a single member of the Security Council has justified the aggressive action of the Dutch and added "I sincerely hope that in view of the Security Council's discussions and the general feeling, the Dutch will recede as far as possible from the action taken and release the Indonesian leaders from captivity with a view to a quick settlement of the new constitutional set-up for the United States of Indonesia".' 'That I am sure is the hope of all of us at this Conference.' 'We are meeting, therefore, with a specific purpose-that of assisting the United Nations in settling finally and justly the problem of Indonesia. The countries represented here are in general agreement on the question, and it is for the Conference in its later session to clarify in greater detail our thoughts so that we can make positive and helpful suggestions, and even at this last moment endeavour to retrieve the position so that not only will the peoples of Indonesia look forward to an era of freedom, peace and increasing prosperity but also so that the prestige and standing of the United Nations, which is so vital to all of us, shall be maintained.' In conclusion, Dr. Burton expressed gratitude for the consideration and hospitality which had been shown by the Government of India, by the Prime Minister in particular, and by his very able officers who by careful preparation had already ensured the success of the deliberations.


Offered with the compliments of the Public Relations Officer, Office of the High Commissioner for the Commonwealth of Australia in India, Connaught Place, New Delhi.

[AA : A1838, 383/1/25]